Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Local LA Bands - When.i.o.d, Anus Kings, Fantastica Bastidas

These are a few videos of some smaller bands I have enjoyed seeing live in the past few years.

I saw these guys play when they were still in highschool and was blown away. They were a part of what was called the AMAR Collective with bands Naima Earth and Not The Government for a while. I don't know where they are now.

Anus Kings
I had the fortune of hosting these two at a house show in 2008. Total sweethearts. Punk as fuck. Video by LA art champion Vim Crony. 

Fantasticas Bastidas
I'm pretty sure this band is going to blow up eventually. Notice Brian from Anus Kings as the skeleton boy. Again, video by Vim Crony (shot at The Smell).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gumshoes Reviews - Soul Kitchen (2010)

I wanted to congratulate Los Angeles for the success of its first CicLAvia on Sunday. Modeled after the original "Ciclovia" of Bogota Colombia, CicLAvia will hopefully become a monthly tradition in Los Angeles as it has in some other US cities and slowly bury its reputation as an auto-dependant city.

Now... Gumshoes Reviews: Soul Kitchen (2010)
The 3rd directorial effort by director Fatih Akin, Soul Kitchen is a quarter-life crisis comedy a la Friday and is equally as good. It follows Zinos (co-screenwriter Adam Bousdoukos), a struggling restraunteur in Hamburg who looks like Jim Morrison and named his restaurant after the song "Soul Kitchen" by The Doors. Zinos’s Soul Kitchen, is a depressing chow house that caters to a steady clientele of dock hands and warehouse workers. When his girlfriend Nadine moves to Shanghai for her career, Zinos becomes dead-set on joining her there. In order to get to Shanghai, Zinos must spruce up Soul Kitchen and sell it. This proves to be a troublesome endeavor that leads to a rollercoaster of misfortune and crime punctuated by exhuberant dance parties.
The comedy pushes hard to breach the heavy layer of trial and tribulation that drives the story and some reviewers have considered of the gags forced, but maybe that’s the point. Zinos is constantly frustrated by life's little snags, a character trait that gets him into bigger trouble. The bursts of comedy provides us with a way of relief from the heaviness of Adam's perpetual frustration, allowing us to stick with him emotionally, which is important because, aside from his temper, he's a great guy. Every performance shines and the soundtrack is full of both contemporary and classic dancehall jams. Akin and Bousdoukos play with their ethnic heritages (Turkish and Greek respectively) and turn Soul Kitchen into a multicultural salad bowl of eccentricity and camaraderie. Ultimately a feel good movie about self-discovery, Soul Kitchen will appeal to anyone who's every been young, confused, and frustrated.
Fatih Akin's dizzying directorial style has all the sass of Martin Scorsese, but with focus on stylized violence and more on character (yes, I'm implying that he's more emotionally mature than Marty). He's THE young filmmaker I'm keeping my eye on right now. Be sure to catch his directorial debut, Head-On. I think it is one of the greatest movies about agonizing whirlwind romance ever made.
Feel free to comment. Peace!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Foot Village - Lovers with Iraqis - Video

Los Angeles based Foot Village has always been more than just a band. From the visceral, gestural, and cathartic experience of their live show to their product packaging, the band has always challenged expectations. Their video for the 7" 'Lover's with Iraqis' goes beyond the typical form of a music video. Rather than creating a video juxtaposed with the form of the song as whole, producer Rob Heppell has made a video cut on the drum strikes and the raw nature of the sound. Go to the vimeo page to read the directors notes about the concept of the video.

Foot Village's last video for "Anti-Magic" took similar approach but with a completely different subject matter and spirit. This a really fun video that captures another aspect of Foot Village. Seizure warning on both videos. 

Beth Stephens' and Annie Sprinkle's Purple Wedding

For the past 6 years I have been collaborating with San Francisco based artists Beth Stephen's and Annie Sprinkle on their 7 year chakra based project the The Love Art Lab. The Love Art Lab is inspired by Linda Montano's Project "7 Years of Living Art." Every year, Annie and Beth live their life and perform in accordance with the color and theme of chakra of the that year. Each year they also have at least one huge collaborative performance art wedding.

This year is the year of the third eye, the purple year. As leaders of the ecosexual movement, Annie and Beth have been committing themselves not only to each other, but to the earth. In the green year (2008) they married the earth itself, and then went on to marry the ocean, the sky, and next the moon and mountains.

At this year's Purple Wedding to the Moon, I'll be the Flower Girl (as my alter ego "Lucky") and also doing a short performance piece. Reverend Billy of the Church of Life After shopping will be officiating the ceremony. This is an event not to be missed. Want to support and learn more about this amazing event? Please watch the kickstarter video below, and consider making a donation, even if it's small. Also visit for more info about the 7 year project.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Gumshoes Reviews: Nothing But A Man (1964)

This the first of what I hope to be a series of movie reviews.

Nothing But a Man (1964)
Shot in Birmingham, Alabama in 1962, Nothing But A Man tells the story of Duff (Ivan Dixon), a Black man in his mid 20s who has a habit of standing up for himself against the White man. Duff starts off as one of an all-black team of nomadic railroad builders. When he meets Josie (Abbey Lincoln), a preacher's daughter, he decides to quit the railroad and settle down with her in Birmingham, a venture that may be tougher than he imagined.

Nothing But A Man was written and directed by two white filmmakers (Robert M Young and Michael Roemer), but the film maintains a gaze that is fearless. The social realism of the film is quite raw for a pre-Vietnam film, depicting authentic poverty and self-abuse. Though the story is mostly bitter, there are sweet moments that feel genuine. The white characters are insensitive, but not demonic. The filmmakers thankfully saw no point in catering to Hollywood-style pandering. There isn't a token non-racist white guy or girl, which would have just been a distraction. Duff's understanding of what it is to be a confident but confused man of African descent in his time and place is what the film primarily aims to explore.

The story moves along at a constant jog, which does not allow the viewer to wallow in the misfortune of Duff and Josie, but rather to breathlessly stagger through it. I found this to be in some ways a disservice to Josie, who's quiet but refined character becomes pushed to the sidelines halfway through the film. Nonetheless, her character is never tarnished by hysteria, as young wife characters are so often tarnished in movies, even nowadays.

The soundtrack is amazing and before its time. It features singles from Motown Records artists such as Martha and the Vandellas and Stevie Wonder. These songs are used as a sly juxtaposition with the somber story. the film depicts Black life in the South without the sugar coating, offering raw, sobering kitchen sink realism that was rare in its time and still uncommon today.

If you are interested in a similar film made by a Black filmmaker, also check the landmark micro-budget indie film The Killer of Sheep (1977) by Charles Burnett. It follows a young Black father working in a slaughter house in Watts.